Rules of a 200 Year-Old Company
In this article I (Taniguchi, CEO) will feature a corrugated company. Established in 1778, it has more than 200 years of history in the industry.
Today’s story is about a German corrugated company that owns a corrugator. It is located in the Rheinland-Pfalz district, famous for German wineries, where the Moselle River merges into the Rhine River. You may wonder, it doesn’t add up that the company has 200 years of history, as the first carton box was made 160 years ago. Actually, this company started as a paper mill, and it was only after World War II that it went into the corrugated industry. The common characteristics of long lasting companies are surprisingly similar both in Germany and Japan. One of them is consistency throughout the organization. For this company, it has an important rule that has been kept for many years. The machines are maintained by the operators themselves.
Therefore, once a new machine is delivered and installed by the manufacturer, they do not call for service engineers for further maintenance and repair.
They study the machine thoroughly to grasp and become familiar with its mechanism, so they can perform prompt repairs in case of a breakdown.
Another strength of the company is that they are very flexible when it comes to responding to customer needs. For example, they can provide a wide variety of products such as brown corrugated boxes, UV-coated multi-color flexography for corrugated packaging, and POP (point-of-purchase) display (see image).
To achieve beautiful printing they emphasize technical training for the printing press operators and an appropriate choice of working materials. Additionally, they modify the machines by themselves. All staff members work together to increase their competitiveness by creating higher valued corrugated board.
Corrugator machines and other corrugated converting systems are becoming more and more high-tech. Sometimes I feel as if the machine might be operating the people. However, the spirit of this 18th century company regarding machine maintenance, “No one else but I take care of my own tools” has carried down to the present day.